LANSING, Mich. — Many used cars these days come with a powertrain warranty, sometimes a lifetime powertrain warranty. It implies you'll be covered against big repairs for years to come. But consumer reporter John Matarese shows they can come with a lot of catches, so you don't waste your money.
If you're buying a used car the promise of a warranty often brings peace of mind. But do you know what kind of warranty you are getting? One woman just learned there's a big difference between bumper to bumper and powertrain warranties.
There’s nothing like buying a clean used car and weeks later, facing an almost 400 dollar repair.
"after about 3 weeks of having it, I started hearing this very loud sound." College student Ashley Lorenzen did her homework before buying this 2014 Chevy Spark and made sure it came with a powertrain warranty to cover unexpected problems.
"I was thinking ok this noise started, so i will call them, and hopefully the warranty will cover it." But when her rear wheel started grinding, the dealer told her it wasn't covered. "They wanted $99 dollars an hour to just diagnose it, and that the 6 month warranty would not cover it."
Look at any used car at a dealership these days, and there's a good chance it comes with a power train warranty. But as Ashley learned, it’s a good idea to find out what that warranty covers...and what it doesn't.
Car-x manager Scott Stewart says he has seen Ashley's problem dozens of times: used car buyers who thought their limited powertrain warranty would cover their breakdown.
"usually the powertrain warranty things that actually makes the vehicle move, the engine and the motor itself, usually does not cover brakes, wheel bearings, odds and ends of the car." To protect yourself, ask what any warranty covers. Bumper-to-bumper usually covers every moving part. But a powertrain warranty typically covers just engine, transmission, and driveshaft. For Ashley "I haven't even made my first car payment yet." it meant a $375 dollar repair bill before she even had the car a month.
The good news: after we got involved, the dealer agreed to reimburse Ashley 275 of the 375 dollars she paid for the wheel repair.
But this is a good lesson to all used car buyers to find out what that warranty really covers, so you don't waste your money.